Turned On / Turned Off: Speculating on the Microchip-based Contraceptive Implant

Sarah Homewood, Clint Heyer

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


For over 50 years, hormone-based contraceptives have allowed women to control their fertility, thus reconfiguring society and how women relate to their body. On the horizon are long-life microchip-based implanted contraceptives that can be turned on and off, which may further the societal disruptions of "the pill". Framed as interactive technology, we speculate on the design space of controllable implanted contraceptives. We explored existing implanted contraceptives through a performance ethnography of their implantation. Inspiration from this process informed a speculative video of living with controllable implants and a guide for healthcare professionals. These materials, along with expert presentations, backgrounded a design workshop in which participants unpacked issues around controllable contraceptive implants. Participants created and roleplayed physical mock-ups of controllers, manifesting discussions around security, relationships and hormones. Drawing from the outcomes of the workshop, we produce a speculative design in the form of a film and physical mock-ups.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDIS '17 Proceedings of the 2017 Conference on Designing Interactive Systems
Number of pages5
Place of PublicationNew York, USA
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date15 Jun 2017
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-4922-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2017


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